Nursing: Choose Your Own Adventure


You need to meet RuthAnne Wyble, a new grad nurse in Emory University Hospital Midtown's Special Care Nursery. You need to meet her so you can spend the rest of your day smiling a little wider, dreaming of possibilities and celebrating nurses. RuthAnne is proof that, yes, nurses actually do care as much as they seem to, you can have a second career and challenges don’t have to steamroll your goals.

When RuthAnne started taking her prerequisite nursing courses (while working full time for an environmental consulting firm and raising her two boys), her mom said to her, “You’ll be 40 when you graduate from nursing school.” To this, she said, “I’ll be 40 anyway.” Besides, RuthAnne beat that timeline by one year when she graduated from Emory University School of Nursing in May 2008.

And when doctors diagnosed RuthAnne with ankylosing spondylitis – a degenerative arthritis in her lower back that is fusing the joints in her spine together – and told her she would be in a wheelchair within five years, RuthAnne kept going. “Once I made up my mind to do this, it was something I knew I needed to do,” she says. By the way, RuthAnne is still walking, due in large part to weekly chemotherapy injections. A wheelchair is a reality she’ll face when the time comes, but it is a non-issue at the moment.

Why Nursing?

“My oldest son was born a preemie at 32 weeks, and I just had the most awesome nurses. This is my way of paying it forward,” RuthAnne explains when describing her decision to become a nurse. “I don’t know what a mom might be feeling, but I remember what it was like to be so scared.

“In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), you are taking care of the whole family – both parents and the baby. There is a lot to that. These parents had an idea of how the perfect pregnancy would be, and now all of that has changed. You can’t make it all about you; yet, I want them to know, to some degree, I’ve been in their shoes and understand.”

In her unit, RuthAnne embraces the teamwork atmosphere among nurses, doctors and all caregivers. “The team members here go out of their way to help me grow,” she says. “There is so much I need to learn. So much of what nursing truly is relies on critical thinking. Our babies are so critical that their circumstances change all of the time. You have to be able to think on your feet.”

Advice to Nursing Students

“When nursing students come through our unit during their last semester, I tell them I know they are tired, but they are so close! It’s a long journey, but you just put one foot in front of the other,” RuthAnne says. “I also tell nursing students that you have to have a life outside of school, some time to yourself. It is a hard lesson to learn, but you need to find a happy medium, even if you are using that time to just go see a movie.”

Oddly enough, for RuthAnne, joining Emory Healthcare as a member of the night-shift team has helped her get to know her husband all over again. As it turns out, he works nights for his career, too. “We actually get to see each other more now,” RuthAnne laughs. “For the most part, we even ride the train in together!”

One can only imagine what is in store for RuthAnne as she continues on in her career. Down the road, she sees obtaining her master’s degree and teaching. For now, she has just arrived, and the opportunities are limitless. As she says, “Transitioning to the NICU has been everything I wanted. I feel as though I’ve come home.”